El Mago De Las Fritas is a Miami Food Icon

El Mago De Las Fritas has made its home in Miami on 8th street (Calle Ocho) since 1984, though it’s not the only frita place on Calle Ocho. Four of the five old-school Frita Cubana joints (El Mago de las Fritas, El Rey de las Fritas, Fritas Domino & La Palma) are on Calle Ocho.

El Mago De Las Fritas in West Miami, Florida
El Mago De Las Fritas in West Miami, Florida

Years ago, on my way home from my parent’s house, I came across El Mago De Las Fritas. The first few times I attempted to stop here, there were no parking spaces available (there are only three spots).

You would think I would have given up, but one day, I was finally able to find a parking space and eat El Mago’s magical frita. I regret not having made an effort to hang around and find parking sooner elsewhere.

Ortelio “El Mago” Cardenas in his element

Do not park in one of the three reserved spots unless, of course, you are eating there. If you do, you might witness Ortelio, aka El Mago (yes, that’s the owner’s nickname; it translates to “Magician”), make his way outside and scream at them to move their cars…with a spatula in hand!

He’s too funny~ Once inside, you must, of course, then order one of El Mago’s famous fritas.

Frita Cubana Talk

A frita or Cuban hamburger is any combination of ground beef, chorizo, pork, and spices topped with onions, homemade julienne potatoes, and ketchup (sometimes) on a bread roll. El Mago’s frita is straight-up lean ground beef with spices; don’t let your palate fool you.

The frita has a very distinct flavor and will cause a flavor explosion in your mouth. No other burger tastes like this. And don’t order your frita with cheese unless you want to look like a tourist. Fritas purists frown upon adding any cheese to the sandwich.

I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you the Frita Cubana with cheese is good, but nothing beats the original. You can also next level your order with a Frita Doble (double meat) or Frita a Caballo (with a fried egg).

Everything is Delicious

They’re all delicious. Don’t miss out on ordering the crinkle-cut fries at El Mago de las Fritas. There’s something very high school about them. El Mago salts them for you; you need that ketchup puddle to dip them in, and you’re good to go.

Of course, the Frita Cubana isn’t the only thing on the menu here. El Mago makes a mean pan con bistec (steak sandwich) with julienne potatoes and onions; I add mayo.

Pan con Tortilla Callejera (Street-style Omelette Sandwich) from El Mago de las Fritas in West Miami, Florida
Pan con Tortilla Callejera (Street-style Omelette Sandwich)

Another winner is the Pan con Tortilla Calljera (an omelet sandwich loaded with ham, cheese, julienne potatoes, and onions).

Remember that his homemade flan with a cafecito is also great, but don’t get ahead of yourself.

Start with a frita because this is hands down one of the best fritas in town!

El Mago De Las Fritas
5828 SW 8th Street
Miami, FL
(305) 266-8486

Website – https://elmagodelasfritas.com
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/elmagodelasfritas
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/elmagodelasfritas

Monday 10:30 am – 8:00 pm
Tuesday 10:30 am – 8:00 pm
Wednesday 10:30 am – 8:00 pm
Thursday 10:30 am – 8:00 pm
Friday 10:30 am – 8:00 am
Saturday 10:30 am – 8:00 am

Chicharrones at El Mago de las Fritas on Saturdays

Tiras (Strips) de Chicharrones under the Heat Lamp at El Mago de las Fritas in West Miami, Florida
Tiras (Strips) de Chicharrones under the Heat Lamp

One of the first things that cross my mind when I wake up Saturday mornings is that Ortelio Cardenas, aka El Mago de las Fritas, is starting on his weekly masterpieces, ajiaco and chicharrones. Ajiaco is a stew filled with different vegetables and meats. Chicharrones (made from pork belly) are known as pork rinds, but this is not the puffed-up version you see in clear bags at supermarkets.

Quantities on both of these guys are limited, so you need to get with the program (ponerse las pilas) and get here early. You snooze; you lose, as they say. I like to arrive right around 10:30 AM when he’s putting the final touches on the two specialties.

I sit at the counter and order a Pan con Tortilla Callejera for breakfast. The Tortilla Callejera is an El Mago-style omelet sandwich. Imagine an omelet sandwich with julienne potatoes, onions, ham (optional), and El Mago’s secret sauce mixed right in with the egg before cooking.

It’s then placed on a toasted piece of Cuban bread and topped with more crispy potatoes. On occasion, Ortelio might sneak in some ketchup, and cheese is also another option.

Chicharron Talk

By the time I finish my callejera, the chicharrones are under their heat lamp throne. Their life expectancy is usually a couple of hours, which is why you must hurry.

I order a portion of chicharrones to eat while I’m waiting for the fritas and ajiaco I’m taking to go. I love these fellas, but be very careful when eating them so as not to crack a tooth. It’s never happened to me, but these guys will give your teeth a workout. And yes, they are as good as they look.

One Saturday, I decided to film Saturday’s El Mago adventure. As you will see, it’s a gratifying experience.

Chicharron Saturdays

So…..should I save you a seat for the next one?

10 thoughts on “El Mago De Las Fritas is a Miami Food Icon”

  1. As a Jewish guy from Brooklyn, there are some things I just dont get. Once I took a non Jewish girlfriend to Rascal House, and as if in a Woody Allen movie she ordered a pastrami sandwhich on white bread with mayo. She simply could not get the rye bread concept.
    I was very excited to go to this place as it is very close to where I work. I ordered the Frita with cheese and the pan con bistec. the thing is i dont get the bread? Why take a perfectly good bread and flatten and harden it? Its a cultural thing me thinks.
    I thought it very good, as this was my first fritas i didnt know what to expect. worth having again, but i dont have a sentimental attachment.
    The bistec, ultra salty, but good, also worth having again. The fries nothing special.
    They are not open on sundays, so my chances of getting the chicarhones are nil.

    Not bad, but i t hink i lack the cultural attachement to find this place amazing.

  2. another place of note is Fritas Domino. it's on 8th street anbd 68th avenue. the last store on the shopping strip. it's a dive but DAMN those are some good fritas. they do al the regular ones, too.

  3. If you guys think this frita is good you obviously haven't tried El Rey de Las Fritas which blows El Mago away!!! El Mago's fritas are ok but there's no comparison!

  4. If you think that the fritas there are good, the pan con bistec will blow your mind. This steak sandwich topped with the same thin fries is awsome. I think it is even better than the fritas.

  5. I have to comment on the BEST frita outside of Cuba.For the old cubans, they remember la Plaza del Vapor where a lot of food carts use to sell all kind of food.Their fritas were owesome. El Mago have those fritas.I used to have my auto parts next to him so I know. About the greasie and rough, that's the way to eat them, is nothing that a 400 degree heat couldn't kill. If you have a chance stop and get a frita from El Mago.


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